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Structure of Furin Protease Binding to SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein and Implications for Potential Targets and Virulence.


The COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent global health emergency, and the presence of Furin site in the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein alters virulence and warrants further molecular, structural, and biophysical studies. Here we report the structure of Furin in complex with SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, demonstrating how Furin binds to the S1/S2 region of spike glycoprotein and eventually cleaves the viral protein using experimental functional studies, molecular dynamics, and docking. The structural studies underline the mechanism and mode of action of Furin, which is a key process in host cell entry and a hallmark of enhanced virulence. Our whole-exome sequencing analysis shows the genetic variants/alleles in Furin were found to alter the binding affinity for viral spike glycoprotein and could vary in infectivity in humans. Unravelling the mechanisms of Furin action, binding dynamics, and the genetic variants opens the growing arena of bona fide antibodies and development of potential therapeutics targeting the blockage of Furin cleavage.